Book Review–Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Aside from L.M. Montgomery’s books about Anne of Green Gables, no book series has quite so captured my imagination as the story of pioneer girl Laura Ingalls in “The Little House” books. I’ve been reading them since I was 8 years old or so. So, when I spotted this book–Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography–at the library in the “new nonfiction” section, I was ecstatic. This book did not disappoint.

In the first part of the book, the writing and editing process that produced “The Little House” books is explored. Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was actually a journalist, and she played a large part in the publication of “The Little House” books. I think I’ve always idealized “The Little House” stories, attributing the complete truth to them. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the original story was edited and pared down, but I’ll have to admit that I was. Technically, “The Little House” stories are novels for children. Yet that doesn’t mean that they aren’t true. Laura Ingalls Wilder, commenting on the book said, “It is the truth. But it’s not the whole truth” (quote from Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography).

The bulk of this book is large sections from the original manuscript (so you’ll notice some differences from the published novels), with annotations on either side, either clarifying information, shedding light on editorial decisions, or explaining historical references.  It is organized by date, following the Ingalls family as they make their way from Kansas to the Dakota Territory. One of the more interesting things I learned while reading this book was that during the “Long Hard Winter,” the real Ingalls family actually had another family living with them. It wasn’t a perfect situation and there was some conflict, so Laura and her daughter Rose decided to edit that detail from the final manuscript.

This book also includes many photos I hadn’t seen before. Photos of the Ingalls and Wilder family, as well as photos of many of the people mentioned in the book. Some people’s photos were just as I had imagined them!

Overall, I really loved looking through this book and gaining some additional perspective on this real pioneer girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder.


Fruit in Season

I don’t know about you, but one of my great joys as an adult is to enjoy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Juicy red watermelon and bright berries for the summer. Creamy squash and crisp apples for the fall. Bright red pomegranates and oranges for the winter. Crunchy carrots and tender strawberries in the spring. Oh yes, these are a few of my favorite things.

Some seasonal pumpkins. Oh, and my girls.

Some seasonal pumpkins. Oh, and my girls.

The Bible talks a lot about how if we are rooted in Christ, we will bear good fruit. I read this verse in Psalms today.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” -Psalm 1:3


This verse struck me a little differently today. Not just fruit, but fruit “in its season.” I think there has been a general shift in our culture that emphasizes a very full, busy life. Applied to Christians, there is a lot of pressure to be constantly being productive in Christ’s name–productiveness measured by how many people we invited to church, how many we witnessed to, how many people we served, etc.

We don’t call an apple tree a failure just because it doesn’t produce fruit all year. Now if it never produced fruit, that would be a different story.

Taking a look at the life of Jesus, it’s interesting to note that He didn’t start His ministry until He was 30 years old, and even then it only lasted 3 1/2 years. One might say that wasn’t a very productive use of his life–I mean seriously, what was He doing throughout his 20s??

Jesus bore fruit in season. His “season” was his 3 1/2 year ministry before He was crucified. I think we can take comfort in that rather than worrying that we aren’t doing enough for Jesus.  So if you’re feeling a little dry or perhaps even useless, wondering if you should jump into a different ministry or why your current efforts with a friend don’t seem to be productive, perhaps it just isn’t your season right now. His Spirit provides the opportunities and the seasons, and as long as we remain deeply rooted in Christ’s love, we will bear fruit when the time is right.

Blog Following and Other Forms of Stalking

No stalking, I was just kidding. But the blog following–yes! I use to keep all my blog subscriptions in one place. It makes for easy blog reading and following, which is essential seeing as I follow over 40 blogs. Here are just five blogs that I enjoy following…

  1. A Cup of Jo. I love this blog because Joanna Goddard shares real and blunt stories on a variety of topics–marriage, friendship, parenting, fashion, and design. The commenting section here is lively as well–thoughtful and engaging dialogue that’s worth a look.
  2. The Mom Edit. Fashionable (and often expensive) looks for today’s modern mom. I like being able to keep an eye on what’s “in” right now and there are often great dressing room posts where they try on clothes real time so you can really get a feel for the fit.
  3. Enjoying the Small Things. Kelle Hampton makes the mom life magical. I love her photos and lyrical writing. She’s also willing to dive into gritty reality once in a while. She’s the author of Bloom, the story of her daughter who has Down’s Syndrome and how their family embraced that diagnosis.
  4. Healthy Tipping Point. Fitness, food, and real life. Author Caitlin Boyle posts healthy, gluten free recipes, and always seem to have the edge on what’s new in parenting and fitness.

  5. Cupcakes and Cashmere. Hard to say why I like this blog, except that sometimes I just want to be exposed to a little bit of “fancy.” Emily Schuman recently released a new clothing line on Nordstrom’s website, but her blog is also a lot of fun. Fancy appetizers, pretty home furnishings, and fashion tips galore.

Who are your favorite bloggers?

Tradition! Tradition!

That’s a shout out for all you “Fiddler On the Roof” fans out there (of which I’m not one haha!). We’re coming into the season of traditions–fall traditions, Thanksgiving traditions, Christmas and winter holiday traditions. I feel like once you become a mom, you realize how completely responsible you are for any traditions that are going to occur. And it’s when you realize something about all those family traditions you enjoyed growing up. You realize that they were WORK for your mom. Or work for somebody (perhaps a father or grandma). Some adult took the time to plan and create a little magic in a format known as a tradition.

It’s a pretty intimidating task if you think about it. Your son or daughter’s childhood memories could very well be based on the traditions you decide to create. My oldest daughter is  three years old this year and I’m definitely feeling the pressure to start some traditions, partly because I feel the fun of any tradition is looking back on it and thinking, “Oh, we’ve ALWAYS done it that way.” As a child, you just enjoyed the tradition, but your mom had to put the work into making it happen! And now I’m the mom.

One of my favorite holiday traditions as a child was our Christmas Eve treasure hunt. Every Christmas Eve “for as long as I can remember,” my mom put together a treasure hunt for me and my sisters. There was always a prize at the end. We’d follow the clues through the house, into the garage, down to the basement and eventually claim the present at the end. One of my favorite years was the Christmas Eve where we each got a new matchbox car at the end. Mine was a purple, sparkly convertible.

Something that helps me feel less overwhelmed is to remember that it doesn’t take a lot to impress a young child. My holiday decorations or traditions don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. A few things we are doing this year so far to create some memories:

Pumpkin patch. This is easy because it’s free on the weekdays and I don’t have to do any work. I will always be keeping my eye out for free holiday events as the end of the year approaches.


Decorating for the seasons and holidays. It’s the first year I’m putting some extra effort into this. It really does help create a festive mood. Dollar Tree and Goodwill are a great resource for inexpensive holiday decor.

Reading seasonal books and watching seasonal movies. Think library and Netflix. Can you tell I’m into free/cheap stuff? This year I’d like to invest in a few special Christmas books. I just haven’t decided which ones yet. Have any favorites? Share below in the comments!

When I’m Rich

One of the fun mind games I like to play is, “If I was rich, I would…[insert splurge here].” It’s kind of a dangerous game, because what am I calling rich? There’s some quote from John Rockefeller. He was asked, “How much money is enough?” His answer, “Just a little bit more.”

So, take this for the tongue-in-cheek post that it is and enjoy. Add your own “When I’m Rich” splurge at the end.

When I’m Rich…

  • I will buy only foaming handsoap from Bath and Body Works. You seriously can’t beat the scents they use. In my frugalness, I make my own by reusuing old Bath and Body Works foaming soap dispensers. But seriously, generic soap is just NOT the same. Fun parenting tip: always use foaming handsoap dispensers because it keeps oodles of gooey liquid soap from getting everywhere.
  • I will own more than one pair of flipflops. What??? Long story short, I have foot issues. Not the least of which is severe plantar faciitis. So my special flipflops cost $65 a pair. It would be nice to own a few pairs someday. You know, when I’m rich.
  • I will stop buying cheap jewelry and buy stuff that lasts. I’m really not doing myself any favors by getting sucked into the 40% off sale at Fred Meyer and buying a $4 pair of earrings. That pair always becomes my favorite and then the coating starts peeling off. So….yeah.
  • I will buy a sectional sofa with removable, washable covers. Dust mite allergy. Napping potential. Enough said.
  • I will buy delicious, expensive, premium, thick cut bacon. Have you SEEN the price of bacon lately?! But someday, I will buy the good stuff.

So how about you? What’s on your list?